REALIZATION: I’ve ALWAYS Been an Independent Publisher

•February 16, 2018 • Leave a Comment

FIRST STORIES * FIRST PUBLISHING

I wrote and illustrated my first books in second grade. My teacher, Mrs. Cook was kind enough to provide me with the tools–crayons and colored construction paper–and allow me to indulge my creativity.

fleagle eraserLike many kids in my class, I had a cast of rubber pencil erasers shaped like animals or dinosaurs that lived in the old cigar box in my desk. The box was supposed to neatly hold crayons, pens and pencils–but most of us fashioned them into homes complete with little pieces of furniture. One of my residents was an eraser in the visage of “Fleagle”–a character from the Banana Splits kids TV show. I don’t remember the content of my story–but I do remember tracing the outline of the pencil eraser to create the illustrations. I also remember binding the story pages and a cover together with yarn woven through holes in the book’s “spine.”

I didn’t exactly mass-produce this book. It was a one-off. So I’m not sure if it actually counts as “publishing.” But in my mind, it certainly seems to be the nascent beginning of  a trend.

SELF-PUBLISHING * SUPER WID COMICS

While I know I continued to write, draw and create throughout elementary school (I remember creating stories for a character I drew called Mickey the Martian), it wasn’t until eighth grade that I started to take self-publishing to the next level. Enter, Super Wid.

superwid original coverSuper Wid was dreamed up in my eighth grade English class–partially to joke with a friend and partially to do something creatively beyond what we were doing in our lessons. The “joke” of the original Mr. Wid morphed into a superhero who often dispatched the evil doers with a tremendous sneeze from his enormous and bulbous nose. The first full comic book (including Super Wid’s Chuck Miller-drawn sidekick, Scot the dog) came late in the school year–nostalgically, another one-off bound with yarn.

After seeing how this one-off “book” got passed from friend to friend for humorous reading, I thought it might be worthwhile to put that original Super Wid story, an additional story and a few other items into a better format for “mass-distribution.” At the time, photocopiers were still mainly in professional or business offices and typically over-protected by office managers. Still, my assistant illustrator (Chuck) managed to get his father to photocopy our new comic book so we could “sell” a dozen or so copies and friends could have them to keep.

That is how Super Wid was self-published for a few years–until my senior year in high school. I was lucky enough to have a practical class that year–Graphic Arts. In the class we learned everything from hand-cut silk screening to how to operate an offset printing press. Of course, one of my first creations was a limited run of Super Wid T-shirts. But my real goal was the creation of a real, printed comic book. It was an education in the printing process–from the creation of the originals and dummy pages to photographing the plates and operating the finicky school printing press.

That final creative product of my high school career was true mass-production and true independent printing. I controlled the process from creation to distribution. Sure, I had a kid’s dream of Super Wid being published by some mainstream comic book company or being picked up by a newspaper as a comic strip. But after graduation I never really worked to take the comic to the next level. My interests changed and my creativity went in another direction.

SELF-PUBLISHING * WENDALL’S LULLABY 

COVER PAPERBACK 6 X 9With Wendall’s Lullaby, my first novel, I also ended up tapping into these past inclinations and going the self-publishing route. It wasn’t my original intention when I started writing the book sometime in 2007. I shopped the idea to agents and publishers and got many, many rejections. I also had some interest–including a few agents who asked for the first 50 pages. But they never went beyond that and I dropped even finishing the book for a variety of the typical “life-happened” excuses.

When I picked the book up again in the summer of 2017 it was with a fever to get it done and out to the world–partly because it was 98% finished, but mainly because I felt I couldn’t pursue other the book ideas swirling around in my head until that project was complete. And complete meant available to the public for sale. So with the help of Kindle Direct Publishing it became available as an eBook on August 4–and four days later as a print-on-demand paperback.

Now, as I write the sequel to Wendall’s Lullaby and contemplate my future book projects, I’m thinking hard about my self-publishing history and the route I want to take with these works–knowing a deeply-rooted part of me relishes having almost total creative control, but also knowing that my ego and my wallet would sure love to have my work printed, distributed and promoted by a real publisher.

DR. ROBIN NICELY: South African dolphin biologist and paddler

•February 16, 2018 • Leave a Comment

south-africa-1        A perennial contender in the South African Surf Ski Series, Robin Nicely was serious about racing the long, narrow, sit-on-top kayaks that had evolved from the wider and more stable craft used by Australian and South African lifeguards. Typically, he was on the water six days a week, in the gym strength training for two days a week, and, when his other commitments didn’t get in the way, running or cycling a few times as well. The unexpected phone call from Vee was just one of those other commitments.

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Ten minutes later, Robin was back. David had tied down the boats and settled into his beach chair and a discreetly held Carling Black Label—watching the last flickers of the sunset battling with the black.

Robin grabbed the can of beer and swallowed what was left. “Get up! Bloody dolphins beaching on Bazarutu.” He crushed the can and threw it at David.

“Mozambique? Can’t their people handle…?”

“I don’t even know if I can handle it.” In addition to being a competitive long-distance ocean paddler, Dr. Robin Nicely was a world-renowned marine mammologist, the assistant director of Plettenberg Bay’s Dolphin Study Centre and founder of the Pan-African Marine Mammal Stranding Network—the organization responsible for investigating the beachings of whales and dolphins for most of the continent.

David folded his chair and tossed it in the back seat. “How many, brah?”

beached-whales 2           Shivering in his wet rash guard, Robin peeled off the skin-tight top—revealing a faded tattoo of a dolphin leaping over a kayak on the right side of his upper back. After pulling on a pilly, gray fleece, he looked at David and kicked a clump of sand. “Fuck!” Robin closed his eyes and ran his fingers through the salt and pepper crew cut stubble on his head. “Vee says at least 300.”

Learn more about this character and the others that play a major role in my epic novel, by reading Wendall’s Lullaby.

MEET A CHARACTER: Jasmine Summers in Wendall’s Lullaby

•February 13, 2018 • Leave a Comment

1280px-Hurricane_Isabel_from_ISSIt was October of 2003 and Road Town had suffered a near miss from Hurricane Bee–near enough that most of the coastal resorts were shut down for major repairs, but miss enough that there was only one human death on the island.

While her 50-foot sailboat My Calypso was secured at a local marina, Jasmine weathered the storm in a tastefully decorated bungalow on Cappoons Bay. She woke up well after the storm had passed—courtesy of multiple glasses of a special punch at the Bomba Shack’s pre-hurricane blow-out. Back on My Calypso, with a big mug of freshly brewed Ethiopian coffee in hand, she rang Dolphin Cay—the next stop on her most recent “cruise of self-discovery.”

One of the few major hurricane casualties had been the waterfront Tortola Inn and its swim-with-the-dolphins program—Dolphin Cay. The tanks and lagoons were intact and the dolphins, safe, but the supporting infrastructure was devastated—no electricity, no pumps, no filters. When Jasmine heard the news—no dolphin programs for the foreseeable future—she was devastated. But, instead of just moving on—drifting with the tide or blowing with the wind with no particular plan—Jasmine had an idea that lit her up inside and kept her from sailing.

Despite the hurricane damage and typical “island time” delays, Jasmine was able to call in immediate help from the US—industrial pumps, filters and generators arriving within 24 hours. The Road Town locals were astonished at the efficiency of what looked like a typical lazy-ass, drifting, dreadlocked American hippie. Jasmine had always embraced the passion and free spirit that was such an obvious part of her life—now, she embraced the trust fund and powerful connections that she had worked so hard to hide.

book page with NEW AGE DOLPHINS           Even with Jasmine’s airlift and donation of materials, the real estate group that owned the Tortola Inn and Dolphin Cay couldn’t afford to keep the dolphins on-site and rebuild the resort. Cash was short and they had already started to put out feelers to aquariums and other “swim-with” programs—“dolphins for sale.” After walking along the twisted deck of the damaged dolphin lagoon, dangling her feet in the water and feeling the energy move through her toes, up her legs and into her heart, Jasmine offered them another option.

READ MORE ABOUT JASMINE SUMMERS AND DOLPHIN TOWNE IN MY EPIC MYSTERY Wendall’s Lullaby!

East Beach, Galveston, Texas: An excerpt from WENDALL’S LULLABY

•February 5, 2018 • Leave a Comment

East Beach, Galveston, Texas

dolphin+resuceKurt had never seen a single stranding this large—even over several months. He stood at the edge of the massive dirt parking lot and looked from side to side. Bottlenose dolphins were strewn a half a mile up the beach in both directions—some with tails still moving, struggling to breathe, but obviously alive. More than half were clearly dead. Volunteers were keeping all the dolphins moist and covered, spreading sunscreen on the live ones and keeping gawkers back from the animals. People were everywhere, but there was little chaos other than a few gawkers shooting video and taking pictures. Just to the right, on the beach, stood Shari Casseine, gesturing and pointing in front of a group of seven people.

beached-whales 2          The group went trotting off to the right and Shari walked over to where her son Bryan was managing the blowhole of one of the dolphins—he was making sure the water used to keep its skin moist didn’t get sucked into its lungs. It was Bryan that first saw Kurt—it was hard to miss his lanky, six-foot four frame wrapped in a red Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network (TEXMAM) windbreaker and topped with a Cousteau-like, red wool cap. The boy tapped his mom to turn around.

Kurt waved her to him. Shari lumbered across the soft sand and met him at the parking lot.

“Wow.” He stared right into her bloodshot eyes.

 

READ MORE OF MY EPIC NOVELWendall’s Lullaby–by purchasing the ebook or paperback HERE.

ADAM ANT, NEW COLLEGE, NEW MUSIC

•February 1, 2018 • Leave a Comment

IMG_5703When Adam Ant took the stage last night to a recognizable, ear-bustingly squawky guitar solo I was ecstatic. After looking at set lists from a few previous shows over pre-concert drinks, I was hoping he’d continue opening with what my wife thought was a pretty obscure song–Beat My Guest. A fan of Adam Ant’s slightly later stuff–Jules had never heard this early work. For me the song was part of my introduction to and expanded education in the world of “alternative” music.

1984. I was in my first (and only) year at New College in Sarasota, Florida and one of the guys (Jon something–I can’t remember his last name) in a nearby Third Court room made me a mixed tape of music to expand my horizons. Adam Ant’s Beat My Guest (along with a liner note extolling his yodeling) was one of the songs on that tape. Reaching back into my memory, I can only really recall a few of the other songs: Cows by the Suburbs (how could I forget that one!); Kids Don’t Follow by The Replacements (one of my all-time favorite bands that never made it); Killing an Arab by The Cure; Holiday in Cambodia by Dead Kennedys; and Damaged Goods by Gang of Four. I think it may have also included something from Husker Du, the Violent Femmes, the Dead Milkmen, the Minutemen and others–but I can’t remember the bands or the songs. I only know that the impact of the music was deep.

In high school my musical tastes were mostly (gulp) mainstream. But even then, I had a collection of DEVO albums, listened repeatedly to The Jim Carroll Band’s People Who Died with good friend Chuck Miller and preferred the off-beat lyrics and music of The Kinks to most pop. But, it wasn’t (like many people I’m sure) until I got to college that my musical tastes went underground and expanded.

New College, Jon’s mixed tape and Beat My Guest were only the beginning of the journey. Transferring to Rutgers University in New Jersey was another transformative experience–the urban university’s world of night clubs, college radio, eclectic roommates and alternative record stores. Of course, being closer to New York City never hurts–though the best music was either on WRSU (the university station) or WLIR out of Long Island.

For a year or so–while at Rutgers–I kept in touch with Jon. He would let me know what was being blasted out of the huge, splintery wooden speakers at New College’s Palm Court Parties and I would share what I’d been hearing on WRSU or the college clubs. Eventually we both got more absorbed in our own college scenes and the correspondence stopped.

JPEG stripped down and ready to grunWhat didn’t stop was my love of seeking out alternative music. I even created a short-lived comic strip for the college paper that followed the exploits of the never-famous band Built for Speed.

Following graduation, I was lucky enough to listen to Matt Pinfield (and other great DJs) on WHTG-FM out of Eatontown, NJ and enjoy live shows (including Flock of Seagulls, The Whirling Dervishes and The Cucumbers) at the Green Parrot in Neptune, NJ.

Of course, many of us will think that those (1984-90) were the heydays of alternative music–that fuzzy edge time between the sometimes cliquey underground madness and the music becoming increasingly mainstream-cool. As the Adam Ant concert demonstrated, the nostalgia can be convincingly strong.

It would be easy to say that hearing Beat My Guest and the memories it brought back simply solidified my belief in that Golden Age of alternative music. In fact, it might have. And that’s something aficionados will argue over craft beer and lattes late into the night. What they won’t argue over–and what I really take home–is the power of music to prod the dark crevices our memories as well as mark new moments in our lives.

Vive Le Rock.

 

 

Wendall’s Lullaby: New 5-Star Review

•January 31, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Reader reviews are essential not only in helping writers hone their craft, but as aids to book marketing. Many readers want to know what other people think before they invest their time or money in a new novel.

paperbacks spine 1With that in mind, if you are interested in my first novel–Wendall’s Lullaby–please take the time to read the latest five-star review on Goodreads. Just CLICK HERE for the review.

And once you’ve finished turning the pages and revealing the conspiracy of your copy of Wendall’s Lullaby, I’d appreciate you taking the time to rate the book (just with stars) or taking a few extra minutes to write a simple review (stars plus words). Thank you all for your support.

CHARACTERS IN WENDALL’S LULLABY: DR. MENKE

•January 27, 2018 • Leave a Comment

A BACKSTORY EXCERPT FROM MY NOVEL WENDALL’S LULLABY
bottle-nosed dolphinFollowing his return to the US in 1971, Menke opted to stay in the Army, but instead of requesting the opportunity to attend medical school, he decided to attend veterinary school at the University of California–Davis. His Navy friend Collins worked a deal to have him assigned as an intern/assistant to the Army veterinarians who supervised the care of the dolphins, belugas, and sea lions in the Navy’s Marine Mammal Program (NMMP). Collins also made sure that Menke had the transportation to make the long trip at least once a week. Upon graduation, he joined the NMMP vet team full-time.

MARINE MAMMAL VETWithin five years, he was the head veterinarian. Over the course of more than 20 years, he managed captive breeding programs, assisted with, and lead, a variety of research projects, got to know several hundred dolphins and sea lions, met a number of SEALs and managed the transition to exclusive, marine mammal specific special operations teams (MSOTs).

To learn more about how Dr. Aldo “Doc” Menke fits into the epic conspiracy, you can purchase and read Wendall’s Lullaby as and ebook or paperback on Amazon.com. 

 
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